Biblically, the Daniel Fast was a refusal by Daniel, while under the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, to defile himself with the rich and unhealthy diet of the royal table. The king told the head of his palace staff to get young men, from the Israelite royal and noble families, who were healthy, handsome, intelligent and well educated for leadership training in the royal court. In other words boys who were "perfect specimens". They were to be taught and indoctrinated in the language of Babylon, and the lore of magic and fortunetelling.
The king ordered that these boys be served from the same menu as would be served at the royal table. The best foods and the finest wines of the royal court. After three years of this indoctrination they would be given positions in the king's court.
Daniel, refused to be defiled by the rich and luxurious foods and beverages of the king's table. Daniel believed that he was called by God to do this, to glorify Him and that it would protect him. In the end it did just that.
Determined, he asked the head of the palace staff to exempt him from the royal diet. Afraid of the king, the steward was reluctant because he believed that they would not be nourished well enough and that the king would notice. Daniel appealed to the steward, "Try us out for ten days with a simple diet of vegetables and water, then compare us with the other young men who are eating from the royal menu. Make your decision on the basis of what you see." Agreeing, the steward allowed them their simple vegetable and water diet for ten days. At the end of those ten days the four young men looked better and more robust than the others. So the steward allowed them their raw food and water diet for the remainder of their training period. Daniel 1 ~ the Message Bible.
In the King James version of these scriptures David asks the steward, " Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and give us pulse to eat and water to drink." Daniel 1:12
The proof at the end of the ten day fast would be the first documentation of the benefits of the Daniel Fast, also called the Raw Food or Vegan Fast. The health benefits were evident, as described in the Book of Daniel. After ten days the boys appeared healthier and were more robust, or energetic, than the boys who had indulged in the rich foods and wines of the royal table.
Daniel's intent was to remain physically and spiritually clean for God, while he was being trained in things contrary to what they believed to be God's will for His people at the time. Thus, fasting was a means to cleanse oneself, glorifying God.
Fasting in these modern days is utilized for the same purpose, cleaning out one's physical system. As well as, for some, it continues to be a way to worship and glorify God. It has become popular, once again, to fast for spiritual cleansing.
Whatever the reason for one's fast, the Daniel Fast is a good fast to begin with. In general fasting cleanses the body of the toxins one has attained consuming a modern diet. Fasting removes all of those chemicals and preservatives that our body retains after we have eaten processed and pesticide laden foods. Cleansing one's body allows one to, technically, start over with a healthier diet. Removing toxins and the remnants of chemicals that have built up in one's system, is a definite benefit. Typically today, one enters into the Daniel Fast for two physical reasons: (1) when we are ill and require healing, or (2) the prevention of illness or disease.
The Daniel Fast, or the Raw Food Fast, does this most effectively. The Daniel Fast is limited to vegetables, fruits and water for a 10, 21 or 40 day period of time. The Daniel fast mimics many of the restrictions of the Lenten Fast, in that it restricts all animal related foods; meat, eggs, milk, and butter, or anything that is processed or made with animal products. As well as 'rich' foods such as cakes. Basically desserts of all kinds, sweets.
Again, like the Lenten fast, it restricts all refined sugars and caffeine products, as well as any additives, chemicals or dyes. It is a completely natural diet. Therefore all refined sugars; corn syrup and white sugar, as well as any artificial sweeteners and flavors are restricted. No foods that are chemically processed are allowed either.
In Proverbs 23:3 it says, “be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat”.
The dainties in one's diet today look good, taste and smell good, but are definitely not good for the body. The same was true in biblical times. Often our dainties are processed to remove calories and fats (both essential to the body, by the way), and then after removal by chemical processes like hydrogenation and other equally dangerous processes, what is left is returned to the product changed irrevocably, and not for the better. Both the American Heart and Diabetes Associations recommend that these products be reduced or removed from one's diet.
So in the Daniel fast, the 'Pulse” Daniel refers to is described as being foods grown up, naturally, from a seed. Barnes Notes defines pulse as that which grows up from seeds, such as would be sown in a garden. It also defines pulse as a vegetable or raw.
The Daniel fast will adequately cleanse one's body within ten days. The down fall to this fast is that you will experience hunger, longer than say in a simple juice fast, as the body does not shut down it's digestive processes. Having to digest the vegetables and grains, the digestive process will continue to tell the brain that it is hungry. The benefits outweigh the lengthened hunger pangs, however, while one's body becomes accustomed to the new diet.
From a nutritional aspect, many feel the Daniel or Raw Food fast to be unbalanced. They report that it does not meet the carbohydrate needs of the body and that it could cause a lack of vitamin B12 (found ONLY in animal foods such as milk and eggs). They also report, that there would be a lack of protein in this diet.
There are three types of nutrients the body requires for overall wellness. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These are necessary, as well, to maintain a healthy diet regime. If one is fasting as a part of a weight loss program these three nutrients must be present to lose the weight one intends to lose. Yes, carbohydrates and fats must be present in the diet for successful weight loss. All foods, with the exception of oils and fats, contain carbohydrates and proteins.
While carbohydrates, proteins and fats are needed for wellness, these can be found in naturally grown fruits and vegetables. Meeting the criteria for the Daniel fast.
There are two main types of carbohydrates. Simple sugars that are readily found in fruit and fruit juices. Complex Carbohydrates are found in yams, potatoes and breads. Breads, even of the whole grain kind, do not normally meet this fast's particular criteria. This is because most breads eaten today are commercially made, and it is almost impossible to purchase commercially produced breads and cakes that do not use animal products or utilize processes that do not meet the Daniel criteria. Therefore breads and pastas do not meet the Daniel fast criteria.
To meet the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of carbohydrates in one's diet one can meet them with the fruit, juice and potatoes that are obviously allowed in this fast. Carbohydrates, for informational purposes, contain 4 calories per gram. It is recommended that we eat 45-60 calories of carbohydrates to meet the RDA. Carbohydrates equate to the sugar and water needed for a body to remain well and meet one's energy needs. As for the RDA of Protein they recommend that one consume .36 grams of protein for every pound one weighs.
As mentioned before these, including fat, can be found within the parameters of the Daniel fast criteria. It is suggested that one combine the components from each group to make flavorful meals and to meet the RDA in each group of nutrients.
From apples to watermelons all fruits contain carbohydrates. Good choices for variation and moderate to high carb content are:
Apricots, Bananas, Cantaloupe
Grapefruit/juice, Grapes, Kiwi
Mango, Orange/juice, Peach
Pineapple/juice, Raisins, Watermelon
Fruit juices from concentrate
Sultanes (a bright, sweet fruit with a vague orange/peach flavor all at once).
Vegetables with moderate to high carb content:
Beets, Sweet Potatoes
Carrots, Swede (turnip family)
Parsnips, Sweet Corn
Like carbohydrates many fruits and vegetables contain proteins:
Brazil nuts, Peaches
Walnuts, Mandarin Oranges
Vegetables moderate to high in protein are many:
Asparagus, Aubergine (eggplant family), Beans/Legumes
Beet Root, Broccoli, Cabbage
Carrot, Cauliflower, Celery
Chicory, Cucumber, Fennel
Gourd, Leeks, Mushrooms
Okra, Onion, Onion Spring
Parsnips, Peas, Peppers
Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radishes
Spinach, Swede (turnip family), Sweet Corn
Tomatoes, Turnips, Watercress
Fruits and vegetables with fat content, while they exist, they are much smaller lists. Much of your fat, found within the fruit group, will come from nuts.
Avocados, Olives, Passion fruit
Chestnuts, Cashews, Pistachios
Peanuts, Almonds, Walnuts
Hazelnuts, Pecan, Macadamias
Brussels, Sprouts, Okra
Parsnips (*2.3 gms), Peas
Sweet Corn, Tomatoes
As can be seen from these lists there are many choices to be had to fulfill both taste and the RDA needs in all three essential nutrient categories.
Brown Rice and oats, barley, millet, whole wheat tortillas, popcorn and rice cakes are permitted. Many feel that brown rice is difficult to make and is not flavorful. Just follow the directions on the package, without the butter, and season according to the meal you are making. All seasonings are appropriate for the Daniel fast provided they are not chemically based or within the restricted group; sugars and animal based seasonings. Vinegar, salt, pepper, herb and seasonings are allowed.
Nuts and Seeds, this is where one will get the appropriate fat content to remain well. Also cold pressed and virgin type oils from olives or nuts is appropriate to cook and season your vegetable dishes with. These include these nuts and their oils if available; Walnuts, Cashews, Peanuts and others. And these seeds, too; Sesame, Sunflower, and Pumpkin.
Today people have access to foodstuffs and seasonings that were not available to Daniel in biblical times. We have imported fruits and vegetables that are plentiful.
Another suggestion, as well as having a wider variety of fruits and vegetables to choose from, one has many different ways to get one's foods. While a raw fast speaks to food that is grown from a seeds, the food does not have to remain raw when consumed. One can acquire your vegetables and fruits canned, dried or frozen. However, read the labels, making sure there is no sugars, animal products or chemicals used for preservatives.
Those who desire dairy products, soy milk and soy products like Tofu are permitted, as they are derived from the soy bean.
As one can see the Daniel Fast is a safe fast to choose, with great nutritional benefit. Done correctly one can cleanse the body and spirit safely. The Daniel fast, as said before will heal your body and prevent illness and disease when utilized properly.
One final scripture tell us of it's biblical and medicinal benefits.
“Is not this the fast that I have chosen...[that] your healing shall spring forth speedily.”
Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough by Elmer L. Towns